Reviews seem to be turning into an outmoded thing. Especially written reviews. With over inflated review scores that look more like wine ratings, the gaming audience seems to have lost interest. Instead people now search for video to see what the game actually looks like. There will always be an interest in reviews, but the space for reviews that will be useful and appreciated is shrinking as gaming media becomes more focused on personalities.
I had run into another Youtuber who talks about games occasionally and he shared the following insight, “I don’t really do game reviews anymore. It takes too long to edit the video for the amount of views I get.” That’s paraphrase but this got me wondering. Looking back on my own videos I’ve noticed that my reviews don’t get too many views and after some critical thought of the format gaming media uses and the consumer’s wants, I’ve deduce that this is for two reasons.
People are more likely to check a review shortly after the relevant game comes out. As I juggle multiple projects and have never been a fast video editor this presents a hard conflict to resolve. The greatest problem with trying to create a timely review is that it puts me in the position of rushing through a game. A lot of modern games reviewers at big outlets get around this in ways such as having someone else play the game for them or simply not playing the full game (or not at all as it seems in some cases).
I can’t do that and I’m sure as heck not going to rush through a game. I like to take time with a game to really get a feel for it before trying to put out a review. What good is my review to others if it’s half-baked?
One of my highest watched reviews was that of Borderlands 2. This was a fairly long review but the reason it did so well was because it was controversial. I also had something of an exposé in the video. This is another reason a review does well, people LOVE arguing about opinions on the internet and the more controversial an opinion the more argument you get. It inadvertently becomes click bait since it’s unavoidable someone on the internet will not only disagree with your review but tell you at length how stupid and terrible you are for drifting further away from god’s light.
I try to be a fair witness and not push too far one way or another in my own outlook. This was not the case in my Borderlands 2 review though, and I typically only take a strong stance when it seems things are so terrible that it’s warranted. I got fired up when writing the Borderlands 2 review and I’m still uncertain whether it was right or not to have done so.
There’s got to be a solution, there always is. A solution that isn’t acceptance that some things are beyond our control and the fruits of our labor come after our inevitable end that is. The proactive solution to this problem is to make shorter videos. This reduces the amount of production time, doesn’t cut into time of play and forces me to be concise in what’s being said. Viewers are most likely just looking into a review for whether the game is worthy of a purchase, any notable features and qualities and for actual gameplay footage.
While I enjoy long form essays of games and intend to keep doing those (i.e. By Design) it’s ultimately a waste of time to spend a minimum of 5 months to make a 30 minute video that’s spectacularly misses the point half the time. If a video is longer than it needs to be, it ends up being more for the creator than it is for the viewer.
The internet and our fast-moving media has conditioned our attention span to juggle more tasks than it does focus on a single objective. Youtube analytics is proof alone that people are not inclined to sit around watching long videos. So the new goal is to be as informative as possible while maintaining a succinct presentation.
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain will be the next game review and first with this new principle in mind.